In Review: Madden 13

A genuine criticism of sports video game franchises is that often an installment that features a significant shift in gameplay or backend innovation will signify little in the way of new developments in the following year. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that Madden 11 served as a slightly more polished roster update than Madden 10.

Madden 12 worked in some remodeled player animations and pre-game introductions, but it came up short in providing football gamers with the complete experience they are perpetually seeking. Enter: Madden 13. Armed with a new physics engine, a streamlined offline career mode, and the ability to take the dynasty experience online, Madden 13 may just be the most ambitious leap forward that any sports game franchise has ever taken.

What’s new

The greatest change to the Madden franchise on this go around is the new real-time physics Infinity Engine. Madden 13 delivers on the promise on physics you can feel by further incorporating things like individual player mass, speed, and body type into collisions. Player interactions, from hits to catch animations and beyond, look better and more realistic than ever before.

The presentation has seen a number of changes as well. Cut scenes feature more realistic camera angles (supplied by NFL Films camera operators), lighting and shading more accurately reflect time of day, all new Nike uniforms are included, and everything from stadiums to player models have been updated to look much sharper than previous incarnations.

Gone are the commentary duo of Chris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson, who have been jettisoned for the CBS tandem of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Nantz and Simms lead the pre-game with an appearance from the booth, which reflects the booth height and field location of each individual stadium. For instance, a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium will have the duo overlooking the field from the 25-yard line.

Career mode has been completely overhauled from an appearance perspective and functionality as well. There’s less fumbling through menus, and gamers assume much more control over things like player progression and roster management. The highly anticipated Connected Careers offer prospective gamers the opportunity to form their own online dynasty leagues, and thus put a massive dent in the armor of real-life interaction. Week-to-week developments in career mode now feature storylines that are dictated and attributed to real-life sports media figures like Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and Skip Bayless. Whether you elect to begin a career as a first-round draft pick or as a coach, you can bank on Bayless “tweeting” negative vibes your way.

The good-to-great

The physics engine, as previously mentioned, is fantastic. Running backs pinball off of defenders with a realistic feel that’s never been portrayed in a video game, and hits can lead to an array of new interactions like stumbles, balance recovery, and falls. If you run directly into a defender, then you’re hitting the turf. Make a nice catch and collide with a teammate, and you’ll find yourself spinning towards the ground while trying to maintain balance. New catch and hit animations are a plenty, while QB throw animations and pass trajectories have been cleaned up to offer a more true to life experience.

Career mode, although similar to what’s previously been available, delivers a refreshing gaming experience thanks to new menus and several AI tweaks to free agency, scouting, and player development. If you choose to embark on career as a player, you will write your own backstory and be faced with a specific set of goals and attributes based on your draft position and play style. For instance, a pocket-passing QB selected in the first round will have higher expectations than a linebacker taken later in the draft.

As a self-professed realism junkie, the new Twitter integration with real-life NFL media types really enhanced my enthusiasm for career mode. In one of a few careers I’ve embarked on, I elected to assume control of the Buffalo Bills as head coach and VP. Ross Tucker applauded the move via his Twitter account, saying that the Bills needed someone with a vision. Skip Bayless, on the other hand, blasted my hiring by calling it another mistake in a long line of miscues from the Bills. Who doesn’t want to prove that weasel wrong?

The bad-to-not so good

The commentary of Nantz and Simms is great. You actually hear Simms awkwardly stumble over explanations before correcting himself, and it feels much less gimmicky than Gus Johnson’s persistent nickname dropping and shouting. Their actual appearance in the game, though, doesn’t serve much purpose other than causing gamers to peer into the eyes of a seemingly embalmed virtual Simms. Ok, maybe we’re nitpicking here…

Run blocking, as it has been every year, is still rather problematic. It is possible to pick up 100 yards with your running back without an unrealistic number of carries, but you’ll still find yourself being sucked into logjams of bodies with no escape in sight. There’s still way too many instances of linemen and blockers dropping and missing assignments.

Kinect integration is moderately disappointing. Although you can call audibles and flip plays at the line of scrimmage, the lack of true play calling ability makes it feel more forced than fluid.

There’s not really a lot to dump on here. There’s a few skating issues and the occasional hiccup with the new Infinity Engine, but nothing that a title update or two won’t address.

The verdict

If you’re an avid sports gamer or virtual football junkie, then Madden 13 is a must-own. The game’s reworked physics make it worth buying on their own. The remodeled graphics, AI tweaks, and overhauled dynasty mode have also helped this franchise reinvigorate itself and provide a thoroughly entertaining gaming experience with high replayability.

Images via EA Sports, Operation Sports

Comments (20)

  1. score is he best!

  2. Green Bay Packers are my favorite team

  3. Atlanta falcons r my favourite team

  4. Washington Redskins are my favorite!!

  5. New England Patriots are my favourite team!!!

  6. Madden 13 is lame! What physics engine and revamped graphics? A major step back! Looks like you are playing a wi or sega game! If you don’t care about the franchise mode who only a 14 year old should have the time for, the game only offers new rosters in a Neolithic product. It’s madden , I’ll buy it, but put some profits into the game and give us something worthy of the title “Madden Football”.

  7. To bad u can’t update rosters for offline career

  8. One of the things I like after a really long work day, is to take my stacked team in franchise mode and dominate the game. I have no creative control, connected career makes me play the game the way EA wants me to. Why take away my fantasy of my own little world to address the people who play online. I don’t want to play some smart ass 15 year old.

    I play alone, I coach so I have an idea of what I want. Also, my kid is probably going into the NFL next year. Can’t add him to any team in career mode. Give me back my freedom.

  9. I hate this Madden 13. Played the early release and couldn’t believe the lack of customization and lack of ability to play with multi users on one console. No Roomate franchise battles, no more brother vs brother super bowls. The gam,eplay is fun but the lack of customization ruins it.

  10. Fuck madden 13 the way the movement of the game suck they should’ve left it the way it was and by the since when u have to hold the fuckin button down to catch the fucking ball that fuckin blows ass dumb ass need to ask the real player s to make this dammm game

  11. Colton the kid who sits at the far corner in web design class. plays video games without teacher permition.. hahahashah troololol.
    ftw!!!

  12. my facirte colors white

  13. I should of played football. smh!! i don’t even like basketball!!

  14. Alright, if you want to own an NFL football game then yea go ahead and buy Madden. If you want to own just a football game you probably want NCAA. If you want a good game, don’t even think about buying this game. The physics they say they put behind it… Only is relevant in tackling. The defensive play sucks! If you go against a crap o tackle with Julius Peppers you might get one sack. In other words it’s awful game play. Players act like retards out their. Changing direction makes you look like a tard with cement shoes. You don’t have a strategy nor can plan one. Defensive backs can’t catch a nerf ball. It’s awful. The intangibles are bad too. Poor commentary, poor player faces, terrible franchise modes. This is also not bc I’m bad, I’m quite good actually. Which, makes me feel awful that I’m good at such a low game. Honestly, buy 2k5. It’s much better, then upload the rosters. Madden once again, continues to screw fans over. Nice monopoly EA, go F yourselves

    • This madden sucks ass they put the dammm computer rating at 50 and the players (AKA) u at 25 hell you’ll never be able to be competitive against all madden i can am a average player or even i good be playing since 94 back n the old days but this is one i don’t like and the game play suck the they used is worthless the players fall easy and to hold triangle to catch to ball suck what ever happen to keeping it simple. My rating is a fucking F.

  15. Good site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

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